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Die Softly

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Herb just wanted to photograph the cheerleaders in the school showers. He planted his camera high in the corner where no one could see it, and rigged it to a special homemade timer. He did that Thursday night, and he hoped that by Friday night he would have an exciting roll of film to develop.

But a girl dies Friday afternoon. On the surface it appears to be nothing more than a tragic car accident. But when Herb finally does collect his roll of film, he develops a picture that shows a shadowy figure sneaking up on the girl who has died -- sneaking up on her with a baseball bat.

It makes Herb wonder if the girl was dead long before the car accident.

But unfortunately for Herb, he doesn't wonder if the murderer knows he took the picture.

Library Binding

First published April 1, 1991

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About the author

Christopher Pike

244 books5,025 followers
Christopher Pike is the pseudonym of Kevin McFadden. He is a bestselling author of young adult and children's fiction who specializes in the thriller genre.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

McFadden was born in New York but grew up in California where he stills lives in today. A college drop-out, he did factory work, painted houses and programmed computers before becoming a recognized author. Initially unsuccessful when he set out to write science fiction and adult mystery, it was not until his work caught the attention of an editor who suggested he write a teen thriller that he became a hit. The result was Slumber Party (1985), a book about a group of teenagers who run into bizarre and violent events during a ski weekend. After that he wrote Weekend and Chain Letter. All three books went on to become bestsellers.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 136 reviews
June 3, 2021

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What if I told you that this book was about cocaine?!

...Totally being serious.

DIE SOFTLY was in a bag of books that was in my garage. I'm currently doing an experiment where I reread some of my old YA books and see how they hold up to my memories of reading them, but I actually have zero recollection of reading this book, ever. Because it is CRAY-CRAY.

Herb is a loser at his school. He has one friend, an overweight girl named Sammie. They both hate the popular kids. One day, Sammie gets an ingenious idea. Rig up a camera and photograph the naked cheerleaders in the locker rooms. Then distribute them to the student body as revenge! Hey, it's the early 90s! This won't be considered a sex crime for YEARS!

Obviously, Herb and his permanent hard-on think this is a great idea.

So Herb does his little camera "trick" and one of the cheerleaders dies mysteriously. Then when he develops the photos, he notices something funny. It looks like he might have captured the moments leading up to the cheerleader's murder. Uh-oh.

I was not prepared for how INSANE this book was going to get. It's got references to sex, child abuse, bondage, and cocaine. I remember the Point Horror novellas being pretty tame, so the fact that this one was so unabashedly crazysauce was kind of a shock. Christopher Pike always wrote darker books but I'm kind of amazed that such things made it into a middle grade book of the early 90s.

The ending was even more fucked up and over the top. I can kind of see why this one is out of print.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,429 reviews1,060 followers
May 1, 2020
Christopher Pike generally creates plots that are different enough to enthrall, with his other real strength lying in creating compassionate, genuine characters. In this case we have stumbling, bumbling Herb, being the typical teenage boy in that he's 'horny', yet being unique because of actual tenderness.

Die Softly is one of Pike's darker stories, ending with a twisted finale that leaves one depressed and stunned. There are so many curves in this road it should be blockaded. It never stays stagnant, popping up continuously with new nail-chomping situations. Was the girl he's been in love with for years involved more than she says? Is she being framed by his best friend, jealous of his relationship with her? Did the best friend do it? Is it because of his love's demented, drug addicted friends? Did one of them turn on each other? And what is the deal with his other best friend's brother's car accident a year earlier? You get the picture.

It's one of those novels that starts at the end, with Herb telling it how everything went to hell to a surprisingly amicable detective. From there out it's a mystery where you get a good idea, but just aren't sure. There is an inkling of blood, but suspense isn't focused on. My attention was grabbed and I hated putting it down. The powerful ending wrapped it up perfectly. Bad points? Well, the middle did lag a bit, even if things were happening. Herb was a 'great guy' but the circular actions grew slightly - and I said slightly - tiresome. The beginning could have been sped up also. The dream sequence was useful and did interest, but it went on too long and became stale. My mind drifted a few times, but thankfully in the end Pike's words brought me back home.

Like most of Pike's books, while labeled as young adult, the very grown-up themes shine through. I was left thinking about how far some people go for people they care about, even when they know better. It's not the general story of the protagonist trying to figure out whodunnit before it's too late, but a different animal altogether. A book that leaves me thinking, even if it's depressing, can never be a bad thing.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,574 reviews271 followers
July 7, 2019
“He had smoked dope exactly twice, but stopped when he realized it was called dope for a reason.”
― Christopher Pike, Die Softly

This book was seriously creepy and maybe the most gory of all the Pike books I have read. It also is quite different then what I have read from him before but since I have not read everything I cannot speak for all his books.


There is alot of violence in this book and some gore. It also has a horrible ending. It is not one of my favorites by Pike but it is worth reading. It is a dark creepy little tale that features a truly frightening little sociopath. Pike really knows how to do characters. I was invested in the book's outcome which unfortunetly did not go the way I had hoped.

3.5 stars. Just recently did a reread and it is still creepy as anything.
Profile Image for Donna.
1,178 reviews
December 11, 2014
It's not often you get a creeper as the MC whose eyes you read through. But even despite the fact that this guy rigged up a camera to take pictures of his naked classmates, Pike wrote it in such a way that Herb was still an appealing guy. I didn't get skeeved out at all while reading. In fact, I empathized with Herb a little. He was just setting himself up for a stupid prank but he ended up getting handed a lot more.

Pike has an excellent way of teetering guilt from one character to another. You can't tell who's lying, who's being genuine or who has some tracks to cover. Everyone (except Herb) looks guilty. I just love how it's all woven together so seamlessly. Until it was made obvious who the culprit was, I was constantly trying to figure out who was the big bad in this story. And why. Now I'm not the best at these kinds of whodunnit type of stories but I'm able to connect the dots decently enough. But Pike's dots were masterfully all over the place in a kind of organized chaos. I truly think that the truth is hidden so well that not too many people would be able to figure it out until close to the reveal.

The only thing I'd change would be the villain dialogue at the end. It's kind of classic in a cliche sort of way how the villain ultimately suffers from verbal diarrhea and just can't shut their damn mouths, destroy evidence and be done with it. It was a definite unload that I think could have been better worked into the plot but I'm over it. I liked the rest of it too much.

Pike did a great job of keeping all of the characters (except Herb) at arm's length. Each had something about them that I could empathize or sympathize with but each had a motive, just a little hint of guilt that kept me from getting them too close. I had no idea who I could trust. That feeling of unease that Pike created isn't found often, I don't think, and it really made me uncomfortable at times. As do all good creepy thriller books. And don't go in expecting a cookie cutter ending either. Pike is fearless with his characters. No one is safe and he sticks to that.

While it didn't have anything paranormal in it, it still rates pretty high on the creep scale. Good horror doesn't need paranormal elements in it to make it horror. Just amazing writing that makes you uncomfortable and some level of afraid. Die Softly did just that.
Profile Image for Grady Hendrix.
Author 45 books19.2k followers
May 20, 2019
Basically it's Christopher Pike delivering a Brian De Palma movie.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn.
60 reviews1 follower
April 13, 2021
I'm pretty sure that I loved this one as a kid, but oof, this was not a fun reread. The misogyny is off the charts (literally every character in the book, including Herb's mom, is essentially characterized by how sexually attractive they are/aren't), and the general concept of the book is, for lack of a better word, gross. I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable or well-written, and the writing itself is stilted and dull in parts (yes, having Herb be a photographer is an interesting trait, but did we really need a four page long description of exactly how he develops photos? My eyes glazed over). The dialogue is especially weak.

The ending is also pretty weak - rather than connecting most of the dots naturally, Pike has the villain explain every last bit of their plan in detail. It should be interesting to see how the dots connect, but it just ends up being boring.

Also, what is with so many of his books having cheating in them? I've read four books so far for my Great Pike reread of 2021 and literally every one has involved cheating so far. In this case, it's revealed to be part of the villain's great plan, rather than a genuine relationship, but still. It's kind of funny that almost all of his books have an anti-drugs, anti-weapons, and pro-God standpoint, but cheating is never really considered to be a negative act.

At the very least, this was an extremely quick read - I plowed through it in a few hours. So at least that's something.

Here's hoping the next book of his I grab to reread is an improvement over this!
Profile Image for Roberta R. (Offbeat YA).
371 reviews35 followers
May 5, 2017
Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA.

Pros: Believable depiction of a male teen...up to a point. Photography makes for an original plot device.
Cons: Unlikeable characters. Not particularly engaging prose. Some paragraphs could have benefited more editing.
WARNING! Some gruesome deaths. Sex is mentioned/implied; drugs are heavily featured.
Will appeal to: Those who love a classic teen thriller '90s-style...only a lot darker than average.

Well, yes, this isn't one of my favourite Pike books - obviously. I'll state my reasons for that in a moment. But one thing needs to be said in advance...even when YA was still in its infancy, Pike never shunned the darkest angles of human psyche, nor the most gruesome outcomes of human emotions. In a way, this book is mature YA, right because of that. On the other hand, it's still a kid of the '90s, in what it lacks sophistication and conciseness. The best teen novels out there nowadays would never spend pages describing the wiring of a camera to a tape recorder and their location on a ledge, or the development of a roll of film. Not cool ;).
But my main problems with this book are the characters and the tone. I'll get to the characters in a few lines...but I'm starting with the tone. The story is told in third person by Herb, an eighteen year old "nobody" (that's how he thinks of himself) with one single talent - photography. The chapters alternate between the past, when death struck Herb's small clique of friends and acquaintances, and the present ("In the End"), when Herb is on the phone with Sergeant Fitzsimmons, recounting the events. The book ends with an epilogue. Now, Pike's typical style is made of short sentences, on the descriptive side. While it works for his most interesting stories (especially those told in first person), it tends to get a bit dull and simplistic here. I get it that we are in Herb's mind, so the writing style probably mimics his mental processes quite accurately, but it also sets a flat tone on the whole. [...]

Whole review here.
Profile Image for Desirai.
249 reviews91 followers
October 18, 2020
Content Warning: Murder, sexual assault, drug use, and fat shaming.

Thanks to the The Pike Cast I'm revisting the YA Horror books which turned me into a reader.

Die Softly was published in 1991. This story begins with Herb Trasker plotting to photograph the cheerleaders in the shower and takes an even more disturbing turn when he ends up capturing a murder.

I laughed a lot while reading this. Sometimes because of the dialogue, sometimes in disbelief. It felt like I was reading a B rated horror film and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Profile Image for Amber.
622 reviews48 followers
August 21, 2014
Another one of my FAVORITE Christopher Pike books. I read this one so many times. The ending was amazing, I loved this book so much.
Profile Image for Courtney Gruenholz.
Author 10 books6 followers
May 4, 2022
This is exactly what I always imagined a Christopher Pike book was like from things I always heard and just assumed it was all talk to keep young adults from reading it...which of course makes you want to read it more.

Drugs? Yes...and how!
Sex and/or nudity? An R rating from some female nudity if this were a movie...
Violence? In very...vivid detail.

Herb Trasker is a teenager with a hobby and love of photography as well as a crush on Alexa Close, one of the senior cheerleaders. When his friend Sammie Smith suggests he use his camera to capture naked pictures of the cheerleaders in the shower and distribute them after graduation, Herb doesn't give her idea much thought.

Soon, the desire to see what the girl of his dreams looks like in the buff pushes past Herb's reservations thanks to his teenage lust and he rigs a set-up in the locker room shower.

A few hijinks and some kinky photos...what could go wrong?

The next day Alexa's friend Lisa Barnscull is killed in a grisly car accident and when Herb gets around to collecting his film, he is horrified because he now has evidence that Lisa's death may not have been accidental at all. A shadowy figure armed with a baseball bat is caught on the camera heading toward Lisa...this was murder.

What follows is a crazy tale weaved by Pike with a suspect pool full of blackmail and anger as we learn about the underbelly of an ordinary California suburb. Our protagonist in Herb is likeable and sympathetic (despite being a Peeping Tom) and it makes the ending one that really packs a wallop in more ways than one.

If you haven't read Die Softly, I highly recommend it.

Profile Image for Jodie Powers.
182 reviews
September 26, 2022
UM...spoilers ahead for a 31 year old YA mystery.

Oh, the early 90s, when a dumb boy could rig a camera to take pics of girls in the shower🤦🏻‍♀️.This one doesnt hold up quite as well as Remember Me. Our main character, Herb, is a pervy creep who sells out his friends the second a pretty, popular girl talks to him. Its like if Can't Buy Me Love was also a murder mystery. Honestly, he kinda had it coming. When the police officer was like, yo why do you believe this girl who is clearly the killer instead of your actual friends...that was the time to get it together, Herb. Did he? Ehhh.

The endless pages of camera placement and film development were enough to knock this down to 3 stars. Was Pike on a page count?? And a truly unlikeable main character did not help. But the mystery was pretty engaging...I did not remember whodunnit. The villain was pretty badass for 1991. Not to mention, there was an awful lot of sex and drugs and violence (and assault of a minor..definitely did not remember that) for a YA novel from 1991. Even a meh Pike book is still enjoyable for me.

Herb, you suck.

Oh yeah, its also really funny.

"What I mean is, I like living in the fast lane."
"I usually get honked at when I go into it."

"Did I make you pee in the shower?"
"I dont wear pants in the shower."

"Only Herb could have simultaneously worried about two ghosts on his tail and a cop spotting his nude photo of a cheerleader."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kolbi.
64 reviews
October 11, 2019
If you're looking for an early 90's, cheesy (in a good way), horror novel, Die Softly by Christopher Pike is sure to deliver. This 248 page book follows 18 year old Herb, a perverted photographer who decides to take naked photos of the cheerleading team without consent (influenced by his friend Sammie, who makes her hatred of the cheerleaders evident in the first few pages). Herb realizes that his "prank" won't go unpunished, he ends up capturing the murder of one of the prettier (and meaner) cheerleaders. This sets off a night full of mystery, danger, impure thoughts, and cocaine. While Herb isn't the worst teenage boy in the world, he constantly ignores obvious red flags because of how horny he is, he is a believable one. Herb's choices and refusal to see what is right in front of him is infuriating, but drew me in more. I wanted to know if he'd figure out who the murderer was in time. This book does contain unnecessary fat shaming towards Sammie, and made me question why Herb would be friends with this girl since he never had anything good to say about her. When thinking about it, the only person who didn't annoy Herb was the girl he was pining after and his mom. Despite these minor annoyances, Die Softly is a fun romp.
Profile Image for Cynthia (Bingeing On Books).
1,645 reviews119 followers
March 3, 2021
I read this many years ago as a teenager and decided on a reread. This book was still creepy and so incredibly violent, much more so than his other books. I thought the story was fast paced and engaging, but I was not a fan of the ending. Worthwhile read, but not his best.
Profile Image for Jojo Holm.
35 reviews
March 30, 2023
Die softly may just be my new favorite book. I read this over a month ago and still I think about it whenever I look at my bookshelf, or any book for that matter. Die softly takes place in this desert town, where we meet our main character herb. The book begins with herb on the phone with the police. After that we go back in two about two days earlier when we see herb go through his day to day life. You get introduced to many other characters including Sammy, Alexa, and herb’s best friend. It isn’t until about fifty pages in when things begin to happen. Herb wanted to pull this cool prank by photographing the cheerleaders in the shower then spreading the pictures all over the school that he goes to. But after he sets up the camera and returns the next day. He gets the roll of film and catches a murder. I won’t say any more about the actual plot of the book. I really loved this book, it was fun, trippy, and oh so gory. All the characters are people who can relate to and see where they come from in life each being in this town that everyone wants to get away from. This book plays as much mystery as horror. You don’t know who to trust. Overall I had a blast with this book it was the second Christopher Pike book that I read and wow did it blow me out of the water. 5 stars but I think it is better than 5
1 review1 follower
March 2, 2018
WARNING THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS but not in the first and last paragraph

Die softly by Christopher Pike was an interesting book through and through exceeding in great Entertainment and Emotional value but lacking in Literary and Educational value nonetheless. With that, the book is definitely a great independent novel as it succeeds in making one attached to the plot and entertained throughout. With its failure in Educational and Literary value however, this book should stay banned in schools because of its explicit scenes, drug use, nudity, and lack of teaching anyone anything useful in the classroom. Before I begin I want to remind everyone once more that there will be spoilers in this review and if you want you can skip to the very last paragraph there will be no spoilers at that exact point.

For entertainment value the book did a great job in keeping me hooked and happy to read more. I could relate to the main character Herb as I love photography and sometimes have allusive dreams like he did in the prologue. The story heavily involved around a photo Herb, an abstracted teenage boy, had taken on the night of Lisa’s death only because “he wanted to take pictures of the cheerleaders” in the girls locker room in order to have nude photos (Pike 12). Though this is very inappropriate, backing me up on why schools shouldn't allow students to read this, it kicks off the story with a bang as Herb ended up taking a photo of the murderer in the act. Once again, for Entertainment value, Die Softly succeeded in keeping me hooked until the end and may provide relatable content to some viewers thus doing good in this category.

For Literary value the book lacked many, if not all, of the qualifications needed to be considered stable in this category. Though it was very interesting with its complex plot the book has not been established as having any artistic qualities for a literary community. Meaning it's not regarded as heavily creative in any way to those who often read books either as a job or in their freetime. Which is most likely the reason why it has also not stood the test of time as before even thinking about reading this book I had never even heard about it to begin with and just trying to purchase the book in general is difficult within itself. So basically meaning the book has been blown to oblivion. As for thematic depth Die Softly was somewhat in the clear. This book can be read from any kind of culture and at anytime whether it be ten to one hundred years in the future. That is so because the book takes place around, what I thought was, the stereotypical “teenage boy with nonexistent self esteem” which many are used to (Pike 13). Nonetheless the book doesn't communicate any artistic manner whatsoever and had no social, political, or ideological impact during the time the author published it. After all of this I can confirm that Die Solfty failed in Literary value as it is considered to not be as creative compared to other books, it has not stood the test of time, it had no impact on the world when it was published, and it has not been recommended for the literary community.

For Emotional value Die Softly actually did somewhat good in some of the areas around this category. I personally think that this book grew on me as by chapter 10 I was practically screaming at Herb to not do certain tasks like help Alexa or confront the person by “hiking directly up the hill” to see who shot Sammie (Pike 176). Still, the book did not present any authentic perspective about cultural, social, or diverse groups as it only focused around a big mystery of who killed Lisa and why. None of which affected the perspective at all. Regarding significance to emotional impact the book prevailed in utterly shocking the reader. Though some may suspect who the murderer is the book still surprises many on the reasons to why and how the murder was committed that “no one had the answer to”(Pike 245). As a murder mystery book Die Softly needed to have an ending that answers all the questions, ties everything together, and do so reasonably. This book clearly did so and will definitely shock anyone as the clues all come together. Don’t even get me started about how Herb ended up dying in the end but also solving his and Lisa’s own murder. If any life lesson came out of Die Softly it is that good looks don’t mean good intentions and that murder is not worth anything. For the Emotional value I believe Die Softly passed in this section because of its emotional impact that will eventually grow on the reader as time goes by and because of the mini life lesson learned at the end.

Finally, for Educational value Die Sofly did the worst in this than any other category. I think this was as to be expected but the book had nothing that could be used to teach a classroom. The only thing taught in this book is how to develop photos for a really outdated camera which is not useful to many if not all people. They even went as far as describing the “three chemicals Herb used to develop photographs”(Pike 95). Discussion wise I think many will love to express their feelings toward certain characters and who they suspect to be the murderer but school wise this book should stay far away from any library shelf as the book constantly mentions drugs use and contains explicit scenes including nudity. All of which are definitely not school appropriate whatsoever. Even right at the start of chapter one the book literary mentions how much Herb wants photos of nude women. So yes Die Softly might keep a discussion afloat but for all the wrong reasons when regarding school appropriate content as it will make some students uncomfortable and the book has nothing to teach in classrooms in the first place.

In the end, I admire Christopher's skill in being able to end the book and tie everything together as neat as he did. Die Softly is something I recommend anyone in reading if you have time to kill but the book still shouldn't be in schools as I have proved. So failing in two out of the four categories this book should get a 2 star rating but because of the great ending I give it a 3 star rating instead. Seriously, if you're a fan of twist endings this is the book for you.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stefani.
87 reviews1 follower
June 26, 2010
This is another Christopher Pike book that I purchased to put on my classroom bookshelf. Christopher Pike was one of my FAVORITE authors as a teenager and I'm hoping that, even though these books were published before my students were born, some of them might find his stories as intriguing as I did.
I gave this book a low rating based on my thoughts on it as an adult. It's very predictable in the fashion of 'Scream' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. Teens start dying, each one is a suspect and then is killed, and then the one you are supposed to least expect, ends up being the murderer. It's a pretty basic plot line but an easy read - I read the whole thing in about 4 hours last night.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Leighanna.
73 reviews
June 4, 2015
Teen sex, cocaine, murder, voyeurism... All components of a proper YA novel. ;)

Reading these again in my 30s is extra fun because they take about as much time to get through as a movie adaptation would take to watch. In retrospect, reading these as a young girl probably colored my perception of life a bit.

A fun jaunt down memory lane.
Profile Image for Laura.
38 reviews134 followers
Want to read
October 31, 2012
Sarah & I have decided to rekindle our cheesy teenage reading habits by having a CEFS co-blogger throwback read-a-long of this one.
Profile Image for Kathy.
77 reviews
May 14, 2017
I forgot how gripping Pike was! So good to delve into his mind again.
Profile Image for Tim Ganotis.
215 reviews
August 10, 2018
Revisiting this one from the junior high days. Outrageous then: teens doing coke. Outrageous now: teens using film cameras.
Profile Image for Jamie Stewart.
Author 10 books159 followers
June 29, 2021
🌟🌟🌟 to Die Softly by Christopher Pike

Unfortunately growing up in Northern Ireland there wasn’t much horror on the bookshelves for younger readers. It was pretty much Goosebumps and nothing else, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered another YA author had been on the scene in the 90s, at least in America through Instagram. Yes, it took me until my late twenties to discover this author who, from his fan base, is as revered as much as R.L Stein. But where do you start with such an author, especially one with a large back catalogue. Why the Pike Cast, of course.

Seeing as they picked Die Softly as a place to begin I did the same and discovered an author of horror stories more maturer than the Goosebumps I sank my teeth into as a kid. Here the story’s main character, Herb Trasker, is not a nice guy. He’s a fade into the background character that readers can’t root for because he aims to secretly photograph the cheerleaders of his school in the shower, urged on by his friend Sammie. What is intended as prank reveals a potential murder as his camera catches a lone figure being stalked by someone with a baseball bat. That lone figure is Lisa and she’s dead. She died in a car crash before Herb is able to get the photographs, showing that perhaps her death was not accidental. And it all kicks off from there.

I tend to like books begin gradually, building up the world within and it’s characters as is the style of many horror novels from the 80s or the 90s. Modern stuff has felt James Bond effect in competing with the sheer amount of entertainment out there by having then begin with an in-sighting incident. The older form of horror writing involves a slow seduction and unfortunately I did not experience this here. Perhaps, because in reading the synopsis on the books back I was already aware of what the catalyst to all hell breaking loose would be, that of the photographs being taken and unfortunately the book takes 80 pages to get there. In those 80 pages my mind kept losing focus and imagining the other books I had in my TBR pile. This isn’t because the writing isn’t bad, in fact, the book and the language remind me a lot of Charles L Grant’s The Pet, which I adored. It’s just a product very much of its time and with its central character being difficult to root for its hard to stick around.

84 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2022
Welcome to the small town of Mannville where the curvy roads are deadly and the curvy women are deadlier. High school senior Herb Trasker isn't a popular guy with the ladies, but he can take a hell of a picture. And his photography skills will be put to their most daring task as he embarks on an adventure to photograph the Mannville High cheerleaders in the shower. Yes, this sexual pervert is our protagonist (though he may convince you he's a good guy).

Unfortunately, Herb's photos reveal more than naughty bits, and it starts a chain reaction that will lead to several deaths in a two-day span. Mannville might as well be Twin Peaks as the kids here are mixed up in drugs, debauchery, and murder.

Let's run down those YA Thriller totals:

1 prior dead body
4 dead bodies

Kill Rating: 💀 💀 💀 / 5: some good stuff here in terms of variety and brutality.

Flour fu
Solder fumes fu
Fire fu
Bat fu
Gun fu
Fiat fu
Spit fu
Cocaine fu

Gratuitous foreshadowing
Gratuitous McDonalds
Gratuitous cookies
Gratuitous sex crimes
Gratuitous pervert behavior
Gratuitous inappropriate conversation
Gratuitous VCR manufacturing
Gratuitous gorge
Gratuitous cocaine use
Gratuitous exposition

Hanky Panky: Plenty of sex talk in this one. Shared boyfriends, rope tying to the bed, and our protagonist is taking nude pictures of cheerleaders without their knowledge and consent.  There was no Me Too movement in the 90s.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 out of 5. Fear Nerd says, "Check it out!"

I'm always impressed by Pike's writing, even when you could argue this isn't one of his strongest books. But man, it's dark. And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out some body-shaming of the female character Sammie. It makes R.L. Stine sound like a gentleman.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Doree Weller.
Author 3 books6 followers
July 18, 2022
I'm stuck between 2-3 stars on this one, so I'll go with the higher rating.

The reading experience was fine. Like, I didn't hate reading it and it moved quickly.

The problem is that all the characters are terrible. ALL of them. There was one who was slightly less awful than the others, but that's as good as it gets.

There's a ton of crazy themes in this one with zero attention paid to how problematic they are. First off, everyone in this book Second, there's child abuse that's mentioned like it's nothing, casual drinking and driving, and so many other problems. But the one that made me crazy is the fat shaming.

Sammie is fat and pretty much not even a girl. She wears baggy sweatshirts like "a male convict." And her biggest crime? She can "eat two big macs and have room left over for dessert." This is after the male main character gets all hot because the hot skinny chick eats a big mac, fries, and a strawberry shake. Proving once again that if you're blessed with an awesome metabolism, eating is okay. But if you have a crappy metabolism, your eating should be judged.

Anyway, the pros of this book is that the scary stuff starts pretty early, which I appreciate. Often, Christopher Pike books seem to save the horror elements to the end, but not this one.

It had a super crazy ending, which was both a plus and a minus. I appreciated the convoluted climax, but i didn't 100% understand how we got there.

Overall, it was an interesting reading experience.
March 28, 2018
Personally, I was a huge fan of this book. Christopher Pike effectively portrayed all different kinds of characters. Some how, Pike was able to create the very complex character "Herb Trasker". Herb was your typical high school outcast, with a knack for photography. However, Herb did have a bit of a twisted mind, and he set up his camera to take pictures of naked cheerleaders at school. Despite this, Pike was somehow able to still make Herb appealing to the reader. Additionally, Pike had the strange character Alexa Close. She came off as an innocent and stereotypical cheerleader, but deep down she was a psychotic, drug-addicted, killer. Also, Pike ALWAYS kept the reader guessing. At every turn, there was a completely unexpected turn, making it hard to put the book down. The end of the novel gave a completely unforeseen ending, yet it did not disappoint. This book provides a very good mix of classic high schoolers but with a very dark twist, making a very good read.
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